Parvati stepped through the doors of the Hospital Wing and looked around. The room was so dark, the stars outside seemed unusually bright as they twinkled outside. Tiptoeing across the room, her eyes scanned over one empty bed after another, until she reached one at the end which contained a small, curled-up figure. For a moment, she thought he was asleep, but then he turned over and she heard an unmistakable wince of pain. "Neville?" she breathed softly.
She could see his shadow as he froze momentarily, and she waited for him to sit up. Looking warily behind her, she took out her wand and muttered, "Lumos," and the tip of her wand lit up so he could see her face. He blinked for a moment, his expression quickly turning from puzzlement to surprise. "Parvati?" he exclaimed in a worried whisper. "What are you doing here? You'll be caught!"
Parvati quickly shushed him with a finger to her lips. "I've already checked – Madam Pomfrey's asleep, don't worry," she said. "I just came back to give you this." She reached inside her robes and pulled out a familiar-looking object.
The Remembrall glowed softly under the light of her wand. Neville quickly accepted it with one sling-free hand and a grateful smile. "Thanks."
She smiled back at him. "It wouldn't be here if not for Harry Potter," she said. At Neville's inquiring gaze, she continued, "Malfoy noticed you'd dropped it, you see. He flew off with it and Harry chased him." She paused and looked behind her again, as if she was afraid that Madam Pomfrey would come bursting in any minute. "I don't think Harry's ever flown before; Malfoy threw it in the air and Harry caught it, but not after making this huge dive." Her eyes glittered as Neville's mouth fell open. "You should have seen Malfoy's face when he caught it – but then Harry got in trouble because McGonagall saw him." She stalled for a moment as his face fell. "I tried to tell her it wasn't his fault, of course, but she wouldn't listen."
Neville's mouth snapped shut again as Parvati finished her relay of events, but it opened again as he said softly, "He won't be expelled, will he?"
Parvati made to interrupt, but he continued in a panicked tone. "If he does, it'll be all my fault. Can you imagine what life would be like for me, if the Boy Who Lived got expelled all because I fell off a stupid broom?" His eyes welled up with tears, but he fought them and continued to speak, his voice getting higher and more frantic by the second, "What if I get expelled too – "
"No – "
"Then everyone would hate me, and – "
"Come on, they wouldn't – "
"My grandmother will be furious – "
"Calm down, Nev – "
"I'm really useless, aren't I?" Neville blurted.
His sudden outburst made both of them stop speaking for a moment, so they just stared at each other. Neville was gazing at her with an imploring look, as if challenging her to answer him. Parvati couldn't figure out what to say. Her first thought was to reply with, "No, you aren't, you're a great wizard just like everyone else," but she knew it was a lie. Lying to Neville never worked, and she didn't want to sound meaningless and insincere. After debating over her thoughts for a few seconds, she said simply, "Don't think about it too much, Neville."
"But I am," said Neville sadly. "I'm completely hopeless. Since I came to Hogwarts, everything I've done turns out to be a shambles. Remember when I lost Trevor on the Hogwarts Express? Hermione had to help me find him, and he did turn up eventually, but that's not the point. And when I blew up Seamus' cauldron in Potions, Snape called me an idiot. Seamus had to take me up to the Hospital Wing, and even though he didn't say anything, he left right afterwards like he couldn't stand speaking to me.
"It's not just that, either," he stammered, stopping Parvati from interjecting. "Everything I do is a joke. My friends can't do anything, because I end up making mistakes no matter how much they try to help. Draco and his mates taunt me every day, asking me why I got Sorted into Gryffindor, and do you know how it feels when I don't know what to answer them with? And now," he sniffed, "Harry Potter's in trouble all because of me!"
"Look, I'm sure nothing bad will happen – "
"Stop it," said Neville. "You're just trying to tell me that I'm perfectly fine when you know that I'm not. Don't try and convince me, because it won't work."
"What do you expect me to tell you, then?" cried Parvati, coming close to tears herself from the overwhelming pity she felt for the round-faced boy in front of her. She didn't care whether Madam Pomfrey found them anymore, she just wanted him to understand. "Do you want me to confirm that you're useless and pathetic and stupid like those good-for-nothing Slytherins do? You're nothing like them, Neville. Stop feeling so sorry for yourself and just tell me what you want."
"I don't know," Neville burst out, and from the way he was trying to hide his face with his sheets and turning away in the other direction, Parvati could tell he was crying. "I wish it would just stop," he mumbled.
Parvati didn't know what to do for a few seconds, but decided to try and comfort him. "Hey," she said softly, walking around the bed so she could face him again. "You're still in Gryffindor, aren't you? The Sorting Hat never lies."
"I wanted to be in Hufflepuff," said Neville. "That's why the Sorting Hat took so long with me. I was so scared when he wanted to put me in Gryffindor, because I didn't feel anything like one at all…"
"I didn't either," Parvati confessed. "I wanted to be in Ravenclaw, like Padma." Her eyes unfocused for a second, as if she had lost her train of thought, but she quickly picked it up again and continued. "We're only first-years, Neville, come on. Everyone was scared. And what does it matter anyway?" She rubbed her eyes; it really was getting late. "As long as you believe in yourself, it doesn't matter what other people say." She gave him a look that said plainly, Trust me.
Neville sighed, but gave a weak smile and carefully placed his Remembrall on his bedside table. "Thanks," he said. "I think I'll go to sleep now."
If you think about it, this could have happened behind the scenes, but J. K. Rowling just didn't write it down, and this is therefore what I call canon. Please read and review, as usual. :) And don't forget to ask your friends to do the same!
If you want to find out what happens to Parvati and why her eyes unfocused when she talked about wanting to be in the same house with her twin, read my other story, Gryffindor At Heart.